My German is shit. I used to laugh about it, celebrating my ignorance like a Confederate flag-wielding Trump supporter. Armed with just a few expressions, I can flitter through the Berlin nightlife, wrangle some falafel for sustenance, and generally exist. I am a long-term tourist, a currywurst rotting in the sun. And I need to be stopped.
Enter Lingoda, a Berlin-based online language school held in innovative virtual classrooms using Skype. The teachers are native, kind, driven, and eager to rectify the “me” problem that is pervasive across Berlin. And, unlike the countless schools peppered across the city, Lingoda allows you to choose your individual classes—things like personal pronouns, “Hello, my name is” (assumingly for personal crises), and “Cases: Nominative/genitive/dative/accusative.” Lingoda makes a conscious effort to be available at all times—early afternoon and evening. Because dammit: going to a sterile classroom in the dark, soul-crushing Berlin night doesn’t make sense when pancaking on the couch with your voice-chat open is an option. All you need is Internet.
Personal Pronouns seemed like a good place to start for me, given it was at 11 a.m.—leaving time to wrangle from any late-summer hangover. A green pop-up bucked up on my screen, demanding I “GO TO CLASS” and go I did, dutifully, 100% thankful for the lack of video (wear you hair how you please, you Lingoda-ites!).
My teacher charged in immediately, assessing our individual levels (a smattering of beginners with different backgrounds) and speaking in both German and English–slowly. Generally a jittery, anxious wreck during classroom exercises, this time, I found myself really diving into those throaty pronouns. With each bit of phlegm coughed up to the surface, I knew I was making my German ancestors proud. Wie geht’s, Alfred Krupp??
When the class encountered really-fun and exciting-new things during various exercises, like cases, the teacher paused, explained the bare minimum, and gave us a few notes in the side column, just so we could keep going. Together, we were building a base of knowledge, collecting verbs like treffen and nouns like Heute, having a visual for the words on the screen and interacting, parsing through them to really stamp them on our brains. When a student professed we were moving a bit too swiftly for him (thanks for taking the fall for all of us, Hank), the teacher backed up a bit, creating different examples, honing our understanding. Even sitting in my underwear, miles away from these souls, I could feel the camaraderie through my dusty screen.
So listen: if you’re struggling to drag yourself to German class; if the thought of leaving this gorgeous, sun-drenched metropolis any time soon makes you feel vomity, try Lingoda. All you need in Internet and a very, very small inclination to learn. Once the pop-up environment swallows you whole, you’ll find yourself glomming onto more and more classes. Like something I’m taking on Saturday called “Looking For An Apartment,” for example. I mean, it can’t hurt, right?
Join me in the revolution of not being a human tire fire, and learn German, dammit. Lingoda is the key.
Written in co-operation with Lingoda.